Curiosity meets the culinary!

Leaves of the Curry tree (Murraya koenigii) are a key ingredient of many Indian dishes.  While handling curry leaves in my kitchen, I noticed some brownish spots under the leaves (Fig. 1). This triggered my curiosity and I observed these spots under the foldscope.                   The brown…

Foldscopes on the go! A follow-up workshop for TSWREIS teachers

Following our earlier two day workshop in June, teachers in 10 residential schools of three districts of Telangana introduced foldscopes into their Grade 8 and 9 classrooms. We kept in touch with them, some long-distance and the nearby ones in weekend visits. There were a few unexpected starting hiccups, that we shared in the last…

Oops! There is something wrong with my foldscope!

Does the title of this blog sound familiar from any of your recent experiences with foldscopes?  It just might, if you are an enthusiastic foldscope user (like me) who wants to put a foldscope in the hands of every school kid.  Perhaps you recently conducted a teachers’ workshop and then let loose the foldscopes into…

Zooplankton in a water puddle

It was a foot-deep puddle near the boundary of our large housing complex. For months no-one gave it a second look — till its wealth of gliding, writhing animal life was revealed by our foldscopes. Only then we found out that the water in this permanent puddle came from a rusty, leaking one-inch metal pipe…

Moss in rainwater

After a few monsoon showers, the water in the large rainwater pool looked quite clear, showing no obvious sign of life, even under the foldscope. But standing in a bottle over 18 days, it got steadily cloudier. Our first surprise came when, at the foldscope workshop, teachers from TSWREIS Chilkur school put a drop of…

A small step – Foldscopes reach teachers

The lesson for June may be patience. As hundreds of newly recruited teachers get counselled, assigned schools and trained; and hundreds more working teachers anticipate their transfer orders to new schools, bright and creative minds mill around, waiting. This week, just days after they joined school, we held a workshop to introduce foldscopes to teachers…

Cheek and inner lip cells

At about 60 microns in size, human cheek cells are larger than most other animal cells (which are typically 10-30 microns). They are also easily found, by gently chewing the inside of your cheek and scraping out the surface with a spoon or a finger. These are some images of Hardi’s cheek cells, first without…

Onion outside in

We started with an onion from the outside.  First there’s a dried up layer or ‘tunic’ that we don’t eat. The cells in the tunic must be dead. Even the cell walls are disintegrated, quite unlike the dead xylem cells that we saw in matchsticks. Later we found, in the wonderful Walter Dioni’s website, that…

Matchstick cells

The school year has begun, with new textbooks, new stuff to learn, and soon, new foldscopes for students in ten of the TSWREIS schools — thanks to DBT and Prakash Lab’s ‘India Foldscope Phase 1’. The school curriculum of Telangana State luckily prescribes quite a few microscope activities. We are trying these out, with a…

Life in a pedestal pond

Hyderabad was once a city of beautiful lakes and ponds and to some it still seems so. Our place-names record long-lost water — Gachibowli (well), Nallakunta (pond), Patancheru (lake), Chaderghat (riverside), and many more. As we continue to lose our water sources to urban sprawls we experience the seamy side of the few struggling water…

Fungus on onion

Onions in India often grow a black powdery fungus. Here’s a folscope-look at this fungus and the cells that it grows on. First try – we discarded the dry papery outer peels and looked at the inner wet peel of the onion which was spotted with fungus. We stained it with methylene blue. It seems…

Slices of plants

After our first ‘Atoms to Amoeba’ workshop four of our neighbouring TSWREIS (social welfare residential) schools took back two foldscopes each. Too few, yet so far several hundred students, most from remote rural parts of Telangana, have got their own “wow” moments on these foldscopes. It happened because our teacher participants went beyond conducting foldscope…

Inculcating Research Culture Right From Schools

As a part of TIFR, Hyderabad’s efforts to facilitate better science education in the local schools, it now interacts closely with four of the Telangana Social Welfare Residential Schools, all within 10 km from the institute. On regular close interactions with the teachers and students alike from the schools, we realized that schools are fast…